6 Surprising Ways To Create An Emotional Connection With Your Online Learners
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How To Create An Emotional Connection With Your Online Learners

Plutchik’s wheel of emotions looks a lot like a color wheel and it divides emotions into eight primary ‘bipolars’. He labeled them joy, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, anticipation, trust, and disgust. These primary feelings can be combined to form every other emotion, according to Plutchik. While there’s no exact science to evoking a feeling in your audience, these emotional building blocks are blended into more ‘corporate’ sentiments like motivation and drive. Based on these eight, he carved out broader categories. These are optimism, love, submission, awe, disapproval, remorse, contempt, and aggressiveness. Here’s how you can use Plutchik’s wheel to improve the knowledge retention in your eLearning course and create that all-important emotional connection.

1. Tell A Story

You may have forgotten the eLearning courses you took in college, university, or even high school. But it’s likely you can recall your favorite bedtime story or childhood fable. Stories help us remember things, so incorporate them into your eLearning course. Contextual anecdotes and simulations make it easier to apply abstract principles. Make sure your stories have a ‘moral’ or ‘lesson’ related to your eLearning content. Ideally, it should be something they could figure out by themselves. Don’t spoon-feed them by explaining what you want them to take away from your tale. Let them mull over it and, if they’re stuck, invite them to ask about it later or discuss it in groups. You can even set up a storytelling social media group to give them an outlet to share their own stories in a more private setting.

2. Use Evocative Images

It’s easy to rush for clip art and stock images. They’re cheaper, faster, and more convenient. Still, even if you’re fishing in an image database, take your time. Use pictures that inspire a certain feeling in you, as these are more likely to create an emotional connection with your online learners. There’s a reason why we love kitten and puppy videos more than emojis. Look for images that have people’s faces. The photos should be dynamic. Somebody walking or ‘working’ is more evocative than someone standing still. Similarly, a person staring at the camera is less emotional than one staring into space or gazing at nature. If you’re completely lost, throw in some cute babies. They always arouse emotion, whether it’s joy at their giggles or anxiety at their tantrums.

3. Host Live eLearning Events To Break The Ice

Sometimes online learners need to be able to put a face (or voice) to the content in order to truly connect. For example, listen to the presenter share stories or tips during a live eLearning event. This also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and interact with online instructors/Subject Matter Experts directly. In other words, it breaks down the tech barriers and adds a human touch to your eLearning course. You can even provide personal anecdotes or welcome online learners to share their own experiences for the benefit of their peers. For example, talk about the time they had dealt with a dissatisfied customer and how it made them feel on a personal level.

4. Laughter, Shock, And Awe

These are three of the most motivational human expressions. Amusement can be difficult to achieve because we all have such divergent senses of humor. Still, there are areas of universal mirth, as any successful stand-up comedian can tell you. Tap into those zones, or just use a photo of someone smiling or laughing. It will subconsciously draw the same sentiment in your trainees and foster an emotional connection. You should also surprise your online learners with a twist in your eLearning content. It should not be shocking for its own sake, but a bit of a jolt can be helpful. You could, for instance, demonstrate how a minor compliance error could result in heavy financial penalties. It’s not a lesson they’re likely to forget.

5. Use Game Mechanics Wisely

Game mechanics can help improve learner motivation and make them feel more emotionally attached to the eLearning experience. They’re not only building their skills and acquiring new knowledge, but they’re also striving for that sought-after badge. Sometimes they even forget their learning and lose themselves in the moment. The friendly competition and pursuit accrue enough points to reach the next level. The trick is to use gamification wisely and sparingly. Rewarding online learners for every minor milestone can diminish the value of the rewards. Not recognizing major accomplishments, such as when an online learner achieves a short-term goal, can have an impact on their motivation.

6. Mix And Match

When you look carefully at Plutchik’s wheel, you’ll notice that each of his emotions is subdivided into three. For example, purple covers loathing, disgust, and boredom, while brown expresses serenity, joy, and ecstasy. These sub-sentiments can be combined to evoke specific responses. Joy+Anticipation=Optimism. Fear+Trust =Submission.

Mix and match these components to create the mood you require from your online learners. You could, for instance, use humor in your testing modules. Use questions and simulations that make online learners excited rather than nervous. This leads to better performance and improved results.

Any mention of ‘feelings’ in the workplace is likely to elicit a few raised eyebrows and a meeting with HR. Still, if you use it the right way, sentiment can be a secret weapon in your training regime. Use stories to make an emotional connection with your online learners, so they remember more of the content. Avoid clip art and go for powerful images that speak for themselves. Include amusing elements to ensure they enjoy themselves. Throw in a little surprise here and there to jerk them awake, in case they’re dozing off. Emotions in the workplace can be awkward, but if wielded right, they’re a force for effectiveness.

Emotional intelligence is an essential trait for your employees since it helps them take control of their emotions and resolve conflicts. Read the article 7 Tips To Facilitate Emotional Intelligence In Corporate eLearning to discover how to facilitate emotional intelligence in corporate eLearning environments.

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